President Joe Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia in July to meet with the leaders of that country over a range of issues as part of a three-day tour of the Middle East, his administration announced Tuesday Morning,
“The President appreciates King Salman’s leadership and his invitation. He looks forward to this important visit to Saudi Arabia, which has been a strategic partner of the United States for nearly eight decades,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
Biden’s trip will begin with a stop in Israel and Palestine on July 13, where he is expected to signal his continued support for a two state solution to the conflict between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, and discuss Israel’s continued integration into the wider region, according to the White House.
After that, at the invitation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Biden will visit Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from July 15 to 16, for a Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, where the President is expected to discuss a number of regional and global concerns.
“These include support to the UN-mediated truce in Yemen, which has led to the most peaceful period there since war began seven years ago. He will also discuss means for expanding regional economic and security cooperation, including new and promising infrastructure and climate initiatives, as well as deterring threats from Iran, advancing human rights, and ensuring global energy and food security,” Jean-Pierre said.
The White House’s press release does not mention any meeting with the Kingdom’s Deputy Prime Minister, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, but the official press release put out by that nation’s press association does.
“President Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States of America will be conducting an official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on July 15-16, 2022. During the visit, President Biden will meet with (King Salman) and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister, to discuss areas of bilateral cooperation as well as joint efforts to address regional and global challenges,” the Saudi Press Agency said in a release.
The administration confirmed Biden will most likely see the Crown Prince while in the Kingdom.
“The President is going to see over a dozen leaders on this trip, including King Salman and the leadership from our Saudi hosts…we can expect the president to see the Crown Prince as well,” Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One Tuesday.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to U.S. intelligence services, in 2018, ordered the assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi. The journalist’s brutal murder resulted in no consequences for bin Salman, though five Saudi men were sentenced to death for the crime.
In 2020, candidate Biden promised to make the Saudi Crown Prince a “pariah” over his involvement in the murder.
His planned meeting with the man represents a reversal of that campaign promise, but one Biden may need to make considering the Gulf nation’s power as an energy producer.
Biden’s visit comes as energy prices around the planet hit or near historic highs following pandemic powered supply chain crunches and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Saudi Arabia holds about 15% of the world’s oil reserves and is the largest exporter of crude oil on the planet. The Kingdom also boasts the world’s largest crude oil production capacity, they can pump out about 12 million barrels of oil per day and follows only the United States in production of petroleum liquids, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
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